LAKELAND, Fla. — By all accounts the Ilitch family will continue to control the Tigers, at least for the time being.
After longtime owner Mike Ilitch died Feb. 10, questions about the team’s future swirled. For now, they have been quieted as the team announced that Chris Ilitch, the sixth of Mike’s seven children, will run the franchise.
Per JC Reindl of the Detroit Free Press, Chris said the team will remain “100 percent Ilitch-family owned.”
But what would happen if the Ilitch’s decided to sell?
If recent transactions are any indicator, the family would be in for a significant windfall.
Last year, Forbes Magazine valued the operation at $1.15 billion, which was about average for an MLB franchise. Mike Ilitch paid $85 million to purchase the team in 1992, so his investment paid off.
Even better for the Ilitch family, the team would likely fetch far more than $1.15 billion were it to be sold. The popular franchise is a proven money maker, so investors would likely pay a premium for the profitable club.
Comerica Park also sits in the Ilitch’s favor. The Tigers pay no rent to play in the stadium, and the franchise keeps all the money generated.
The Ilitch family’s close ties to the Tigers, when coupled with the Chris Ilitch’s involvement with the club prior to his father’s death, likely means an Ilitch will continue to run the Motor City’s professional baseball club, but the chance to turn a baseball team into billions of dollars has got to be difficult to pass up.